Q & A with Carey Campbell

April 2016 Vol 16 (2)

Carey Campbell is director of nursing for Southern Cross Hospital's 800 nurses and chair of the private surgical hospitals directors of nursing group. Find out about her career to date, her wishes for the nursing workforce and why she wonders whether her love of fishing is compatible with one of her favourite movies...


 Carey Campbell Where and when did you train?

I graduated from Waikato Technical Institute (now Wintec) at the end of 1986 with a Diploma in Nursing.

Other qualifications/professional roles?

Since then I’ve obtained my Bachelor of Nursing (Massey), Postgraduate Diploma in Health Leadership and Management, and Master in Health Practice (both from AUT).
I am the chair of the directors of nursing group for NZPSHA (the New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals Association), and I am a member of the Clinical and Technical Advisory Group for Health Informatics NZ (HINZ), a member of NENZ (Nurse Executives of New Zealand) and co-lead director of nursing for PDRP (professional development recognition programmes). Plus I chair nurse practitioner assessment panels for the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

In a sense it just happened. I was attracted to healthcare and interested in the health professions and I guess nursing was the first door I opened and walked through.

What was your nursing career up to your current job?

Much of my career has been spent at Waikato District Health Board, in a number of different nursing roles. These include staff nurse, clinical resource nurse/educator (orthopaedics), charge nurse (gynaecology), professional nurse advisor, acting director of nursing and clinical nurse director.
It was a tough decision to leave the DHB in 2008 and take up my current role at Southern Cross Hospitals – although I’ve never looked back!

So what is your current job all about?

My role is to deliver professional leadership and strategic direction for our nursing workforce (about 800 nurses across 10 hospitals), with a strong focus on patient safety and workforce planning and development.
I report to the chief executive and my senior management team position means nursing interests figure in executive decision-making.

What do you love most about being a nursing leader?

I can influence positive change, and work with amazing inter-disciplinary teams and nurses who really make a difference in patients’ lives. I enjoy being part of the development of nursing, and of individual nurses, and my professional conversations with NP applicants (during assessment panels). Learning about their practice and the amazing roles they hold is inspiring and makes me proud to be a nurse.

What do you love least about being a nursing leader in 2016?

The best interest of the patient is never served by creating additional hoops for nurses to jump through, just to prove themselves. It can be tiring and frustrating working through this, but then it’s a cause worth fighting for.

If there was a fairy godmother of nursing, what three wishes would you ask to be granted for the New Zealand nursing workforce?

Funded NEtP positions for all new graduate RNs, please.
Can we please have environments and systems that enable all nurses to work to the full breadth of their scope of practice (and let’s put the hoops back in the PE shed?)
All nurses work within a team culture where ‘speaking up’ appropriately is supported and loudly applauded.

What are the key differences in leading nursing in the private sector versus the public sector?

No need to plan the Christmas roster (we close down for the holiday)! Seriously though, there are more similarities than differences. Nurses in both sectors strive to provide safe, quality, person-centred care. The context and environment may be different, but our patients’ needs for compassionate care are the same.

What do you do to try and keep fit, healthy, happy and balanced?

I can’t claim to nail all four every time (though I am generally happy most of the time!). Having a national role with 10 hospitals from Auckland to Invercargill, I travel a lot. So in the weekends I love being at home with family and friends. Home may, in fact, be a football sideline, a movie theatre, a BBQ, or a beach (for a spot of fishing or diving). I love reading and cooking – but don’t get much time for those!

What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday?

Purposeful inertia!

While waiting in the supermarket check-out queue which magazine are you most likely to pick up to browse and why? Gossip? Cooking? Sport? Fashion? Politics/news?

None, I’m either too busy people-watching, chatting to other customers or zipping through the self-service checkout. But if I had to choose one, it would be a food magazine… looking at all the lovely recipes I never get the time to try.

What are three of your favourite movies of all time?

Finding Nemo (is that compatible with fishing?)
Divergent (dystopian society and social experiments intrigue me)
The Sound of Music (I’m not too keen on hill walking but love a good singalong!) ✚

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